The Farmer's Dog

Dog Dandruff: What Causes It and How to Treat It

Can dogs get dandruff? Yes, dogs, like us, are susceptible to this skin condition. Possible causes of dog dandruff include dry air or allergies.

By: Scott Richmond
Don’t use a dandruff shampoo made for people. By: Scott Richmond

Dogs, just like people, can get dandruff — an annoying, uncomfortable skin condition.

Dandruff is dry flaky skin. It’s made up of dead skin cells that fall from the skin. When it clumps together, it looks like white flakes.

Simple things such as daily brushing, a balanced diet and dietary supplements can go a long way to sorting the problem out.


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Possible Causes of Dog Dandruff

As with humans, dandruff can be a result of many factors in your dog’s health. Here are a few possibilities:

1. Allergies

Common allergens range from dust and pollens to household cleaners to certain foods. Sometimes an allergen will cause a topical reaction — that is, a reaction only where the allergen directly touches your dog. Sometimes an allergen can affect areas it doesn’t even touch.

2. Cheyletiella mites

Also referred to as “walking dandruff,” these white mites make themselves comfortable in a dog’s skin and coat while they lay eggs. They make life miserable for your dog.

3. Fungal skin infections/bacteria

If your dog has an underlying skin condition, it could affect his whole body instead of a localized area.

4. Low humidity

If you live in an especially dry area, the air in your home might be stripping your dog’s skin of moisture, which means he will scratch frequently. This scratching will only worsen existing skin conditions.

5. Poor diet

If your dog isn’t getting enough water to drink or enough vitamins, minerals and fat from his food, his coat will probably suffer.

Bathing can help. By: cristinabe
Bathing can help with dog dandruff. Use a specialized shampoo, and leave it on for 15-20 minutes to hydrate the skin. By: cristinabe

How to Treat Dog Dandruff (4 Simple Ways)

  1. Brushing: Treat your dog to a good brushing session once a day. This helps distribute the natural oils from the coat and massage the skin, which promotes oil production.
  2. Improve the diet: Switch to a high-quality pet food and consider investing in a good nutritional supplement. Put several water dishes throughout the house so your dog will always have access to fresh water.
  3. Specialized shampoo: Certain pet shampoos are designed to re-moisturize the skin and relieve flakiness and irritation caused by dandruff. Keep in mind that a dandruff shampoo designed for humans will be too harsh for your dog, so using Head & Shoulders is a bad idea. We’ve heard good things about this Pet MD Oatmeal Dog Shampoo (affiliate link). It’s a soap-free, natural shampoo that’s made in the USA.
  4. See your veterinarian: Your vet will be able to properly diagnose your dog and advise on treatment and prevention. If your dog has allergies, for example, your vet might prescribe a topical ointment, antihistamines or fish oil capsules. If the allergen can be avoided or eliminated, that’s probably the best option.

Dr. Robert Pane, DVM, explains more about dog dandruff in this quick video:

The Farmer's Dog


This pet health content was reviewed by a veterinarian.


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Petful®, formerly known as Pets Adviser, is passionate about helping pets live happier, healthier lives. Our writers include veterinarians Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, and Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS, among other experts. We are a veterinarian-recommended source of trusted information. Founded by award-winning journalist and editor Dave Baker, a longtime advocate for pet food safety, Petful is the leading independent source of U.S. pet food recall information on the web. Learn more about the amazing team behind Petful here: Meet the Team.

Don’t Miss: See why Dave from Petful thinks The Farmer’s Dog is the best new dog food in the U.S. for a happier, healthier dog: Here is his review. For cats and multi-pet households, Dave’s top pick is NomNomNow. See why here.

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